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The embarrassing spiral continues

Lawsuits, threats to national accreditation, an embarrassing lack of knowledge and professionalism amongst the ruling board majority, millions of wasted dollars, an utterly chaotic and impossible to follow reassignment process and now failure to win federal magnet dollars of the kind that it used to have a lock on — the disastrous collapse of Wake County’s once outstanding public school system continues.

All one can say is “heck of a job, Ronny and Johnny!”

12 Comments

  1. Tothepoint

    September 30, 2010 at 10:01 am

    As with most liberal/progressive stories, the whole story is never disclosed because then their story wouldn’t make sense.

    As pointed out in the article identified, the Wake school system failed to receive the magnet dollar grant in 2005 when the past, failed school structure was in place.

    To associate this year’s results with the change is pure bunk. Another attempt by the failed liberal/progressive debate.

    You have no proof that the new change is going to do anything wrong. You are only upset because someone with a different approach, but with the same intent on providing the best results possible for students, does not agree with yours.

    What we do have is proof that the existing system did not work. It failed.

    The reasons for the failure are many but liberal/progressives refuse to acknowledge critical parts of those reasons because it doesn’t fit within their script or philosophy.

  2. Jack

    September 30, 2010 at 10:17 am

    For outstanding work in the category of: “IF IT WORKS BREAK IT” the Gang of Five is recognized for its diligent work to dismantle the Wake County school system. Their efforts has generated name calling, community divisiveness, and revealed that there are those who continue to believe that separate is equal.

    For their outstanding lack of understanding the needs of the community as well as ignoring the voice of the community the Gang of Five is worthy of receiving the 2010 “Mission Accomplished” award in the category of – IF IT WORKS BREAK IT.

    (The Mission Accomplished award is not affiliated with the U.S Military the U.S. Navy or their sole funder – the United States Government.)

  3. Rob Schofield

    September 30, 2010 at 10:23 am

    As the list in the main post makes clear, I’m afraid there is plenty of proof that the “new change” is causing enormous problems.

    No one is opposed to the actions of the board majority (they don’t deserve to be dignified with the term “approach”) simply because they are “different.” People of all different ideological persuasions are opposed because the actions don’t make any sense and becasue they are completely destroying a system that was only in need of a tune-up.

    As for the allegation that “liberal/progressives” refuse to acknowledge shortcomings in the way things were, Ms. “Tothepoint” needs to spend more time reading what folks like Great Schools in Wake are actually saying and less time
    posting knee-jerk comments based on inaccurate stereotypes.

  4. Dragan Glas

    September 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Greetings,

    I’ve been watching the events in Wake County from across the “pond” and thought I’d give my perspective of it.

    The current board’s efforts to change the system is sorely misguided.

    What they are doing is attempting to bring into effect a system that resembles one in the UK, where schools are assigned “catchment areas” – that is, if you live within a certain area around a school, your children go to that school.

    If you thought that bussing was a problem…!

    There are a number of problems with “catchment areas” (read, “neighbourhood schools”).

    1) If there are too many children in the school, the local education authority redraws the catchment area so that it is smaller – the idea being to reduce the area to include just enough families to give the school the (less than) maximum number of children with which it can cope.

    2) The result of this redrawing of the area means that those families who were on the outskirts are now outside the new catchment area.

    They then have two choices;

    (a) either move house – so that they are now in the new smaller catchment area so that they can keep their children at the existing school or,
    (b) take their children out of that school and put them in the school in whose catchment area they’ve ended up by default (unless, of course, they don’t like THAT school, which means they’ll have to move elsewhere into another school’s catchment area).

    As can be seen from the above, this system results in families “leap-frogging” into ever smaller catchment areas in order to keep their children at their desired school. As with “musical chairs”, if they’re unable to buy a house in the area, they then have to look around and “leap-frog” into their next-best school’s catchment area – where the process repeats again and again.

    All this relocating results in property prices going up in the desirable schools’ catchment areas, with a similar slump in prices in undesirable schools’ catchment areas.

    Not to mention the considerable upheaval to families lives, work and the children’s education.

    Having worked in the UK, though I don’t have a family, I saw the disruption this brings: a colleague, who had two young daughters at a desirable school, ended up moving his family – I don’t recall now which it was – either, twice in three years or thrice in two years.

    To give some indication of the sort of things that happen, here’s a article from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK – where I lived/worked – about the catchment area’s issues and what desperate measures families will take to ensure their children go to the “best” schools (scroll down the page):

    http://local.goodschoolsguide.co.uk/The_Catchment_Area_Cheat_High_Wycombe-r1407047-High_Wycombe_EN.html

    As I said, this is not what you want in Wake County – or elsewhere for that matter!

    Kindest regards,

    James

  5. Alex

    September 30, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I can’t figure out why James continues to bore us with this irrelevant comparison to UK schools. His argument that folks here will constantly be moving to get to a certain school makes no sense in our current real estate market.

  6. Dragan Glas

    September 30, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Greetings,

    With all due respect, Alex, those who can do so in the current housing market, will move.

    When the market picks up again, you’ll find that this sort of thing will increase.

    May I also point out, that the UK (and Ireland) housing market is little different than America’s – the current economic problem is global, after all.

    Kindest regards,

    James

  7. Alex

    September 30, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    It’s a ludicrous argument James. My son was re-assigned 4 different times by the old regime, and there is no way I would have considered moving. I saw little difference in any of the schools, and all were characterized by disinterested teachers, dumbed down curriculums, and an apathetic administration that was trying to cope with the bureaucracy. Anyone close to the system knows this, and the fail rates support my argument that world class status was nothing but an illusion. The only solution instead of this ridiculous emphasis on diversity is smaller class sizes, more charter schools, and innovation in the classroom by getting rid of bad teachers.Anything else is nothing more than fluff.

  8. Dragan Glas

    September 30, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Greetings,

    I agree with your suggestions to some extent, Alex.

    From what I’ve seen reported here and elsewhere, almost 95% of parents were satisfied with the current system.

    If the actual problems identified by the 5% were actually addressed, would this not be better than dismantling a system completely?

    Charter schools also have their problems from what I’ve seen: although there are some run by conscientious principals/teachers, a greater majority of them perform worse than public schools.

    Smaller class sizes work because of the current average quality level of teachers there – if the quality of teachers were raised, this would raise the average level and they would be able to cope with larger class sizes. Jaime Escalante did it in California – handling up to 50 pupils in his classes teaching AP Algebra/Calculus to pupils who hadn’t done this before.

    I do agree with you regarding being able to remove mediocre/poor teachers from the classroom – they could easily perform non-teaching jobs (admin, etc). Unfortunately, the unions see this as “teachers losing their jobs”.

    What I don’t understand is how teachers there can teach even though they may not have a degree – I saw one report (from several years back) stating that only 2% of NC teachers had a degree: that means 98% were teaching on the back of a high-school diploma – if that.

    In Ireland, you can’t teach unless you have a degree in the subject along with the teacher qualification. No wonder your school education system is poor – no offence intended to you or any other American.

    Kindest regards,

    James

  9. Joe Ciulla

    September 30, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    We don’t know yet WHY our application was denied. Could it be that the Feds found out that minority and ED students actually perform worse in magnet schools than they do in non-magnets? Many other school systems had their grant requests denied, including three systems in NC. It is irresponsible to jump to a conclusion that the board’s actions led to our rejections. Why don’t you wait until the facts are out before pointing the finger?

    James,
    You have some bad information. 95% of the survey respondents said they were happy with their current school. It did not say they were happy with reassignment, MYR or the inequities between magnet and non-magnet schools. The kids who benefit the most (academically) from magnet participation are affluent white/asians.

  10. Dragan Glas

    October 1, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Greetings,

    Thanks, Joe, for the correction – I appear to have misunderstood to what the percentage referred. I apologise if my misunderstanding caused any irritation or offence.

    I noted Alex’s comment on his(?) son being reassigned four times and had been puzzled as to why children would have their education disrupted by so much change. I can understand Alex’s frustration given that fact.

    That begs the question as to why reassign children every year? Could there not be an acknowledgement that, since ~95% of parents are happy with their school, that their children don’t need to be reassigned? And only the ~5% need addressing?

    I realise that that might mean not adhering to the requirements for assignments to schools – it may mean less/more than the computer model’s optimum arrangement for assigning children – but wouldn’t that be better than changing absolutely everything?

    [If anyone wants me to "butt out", I'll understand...]

    Kindest regards,

    James

  11. Joe Ciulla

    October 1, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    James,
    I think I had you confused with someone else. I completely agree that there is no need to have the kind of annual reassignments we have had here.
    FYI, I have lived here 18 years. I lived in my first home for eight years. By the time my oldest was ready to enter kindergarten, we had been reassigned three times. I moved to a different home ten years ago. Since moving to my new home, our neighborhood has been reassigned three times (each) for elementary, middle and high school. This included assignments to mandatory year round schools.

  12. Dragan Glas

    October 1, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Greetings,

    Thank you, Joe – I was becoming concerned that I was rubbing everyone up the wrong way.

    My interest stems from having been on holiday in North Carolina a number of years ago. You’ve got a very nice state there – people, climate, etc. As one of the counties bears my surname – Burke – I visited it and was blown away by the scenery! I’ve been keeping an eye on it as I had hoped to go there again in the future (not presently, what with the economy here, and as my mother has Alzheimers – such is life). Hence my interest in, what I’d learned to be, a nationally-lauded county’s public school system.

    I see you have a similar experience as Alex with reassignments.

    This just seems completely unnecessary to me. It seems to be making the civilian schools’ system as disruptive as the military’s – where constantly being posted all over the world results in their children having to switch schools on a regular basis, potentially damaging their education.

    As I said, why don’t they just leave children in schools with which the parents are happy and just reassign those whose parents aren’t happy? Even if the parents weren’t happy with bussing, they’d at least be happy with their child’s school, which is what’s really important.

    To address Alex’s earlier point, public-charter schools can help – as long as you go with existing models with a good reputation: KIPP, YESPrep (Texas), BASIS (Arizona), Greendot (California), SfA (Maryland, etc), TeamCFA (various, including NC), etc. Granted, even with these one still has to be careful – a reputable model doesn’t guarantee a quality school. New, untried models would be a unwarranted risk – at any time, but particularly in the current economic climate.

    You’ve already got the Early College High Schools and Redesigned (NAF “career academies”) Schools – perhaps more of these would be the way to go? There’s also the New Schools Project (http://newschoolsproject.org/about-us/) – so, it’s not as if North Carolina doesn’t have viable options.

    However, the current economic situation doesn’t help – or next year’s projected budget shortfall (~$3 billion – yikes!). Might have to raid your CAFR.

    Kindest regards,

    James